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Biomaterials. 2006 Jul;27(21):3945-54. Epub 2006 Mar 30.

The effect of environmental factors on the response of human corneal epithelial cells to nanoscale substrate topography.

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1
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA.

Abstract

We have previously shown that human corneal epithelial cells sense and react to nanoscale substrate topographic stimuli [Teixeira AI, Abrams GA, Bertics PJ, Murphy CJ, Nealey PF. Epithelial contact guidance on well-defined micro- and nanostructured substrates. J Cell Sci 2003;116(10):1881-92; Karuri NW, Liliensiek S, Teixeira AI, Abrams G, Campbell S, Nealey PF, et al. Biological length scale topography enhances cell-substratum adhesion of human corneal epithelial cells. J Cell Sci 2004;117(15):3153-64]. Here we demonstrate that cellular responses to nanoscale substrate topographies are modulated by the context in which these stimuli are presented to cells. In Epilife medium, cells aligned preferentially in the direction perpendicular to nanoscale grooves and ridges. This is in contrast to a previous study where cells cultured in DMEM/F12 medium aligned in the direction parallel to nanoscale topographic features [Teixeira AI, Abrams GA, Bertics PJ, Murphy CJ, Nealey PF. Epithelial contact guidance on well-defined micro- and nanostructured substrates. J Cell Sci 2003;116(10):1881-92]. Additionally, cell alignment in Epilife medium was dependent on pattern pitch. Cells switched from perpendicular to parallel alignment when the pitch was increased from 400 to 4,000 nm. There was a transition region (between 800 and 1,600 nm pitch) where both parallel and perpendicular alignments were favored compared to all other cellular orientations. Cells formed focal adhesions parallel to the substrate topographies in this transition region. On the nano- and microscale patterns, 400 and 4,000 nm pitch, focal adhesions were almost exclusively oriented obliquely to the topographic patterns.

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